Improving energy efficiency in buildings by 30 percent would create a $275 billion market for advanced technology, engineering and design services, and construction activity in the US alone, according to research by United Technologies Corporation, in collaboration with the Rhodium Group.
The energy savings would generate $34 billion per year for American businesses, net of investment expenses, that could either be passed on to consumers or used to hire more employees or invest in R&D or expanded production, according to Unlocking American Efficiency: The Economic and Commercial Power of Investing in Energy Efficient Buildings.
Households would save an additional $23 billion per year that they could use to save for the future, invest in education, or spend on consumer goods or personal services. And federal, state and local governments in budget-constrained times would save more than $8 billion annually, equivalent to funding the National Science Foundation or nearly all of the annual budget for the EPA, the report says.
In the residential sector, the report determined that achieving a 30 percent efficiency improvement in existing residential buildings would require investing $115 billion in energy efficient technology and design. This investment would more than pay for itself in energy cost savings, additionally generating an estimated improvement in average household cash flow of $163 a year, equal to the average annual household spend on fresh vegetables, according to UTC.
The first step in improving energy efficiency in buildings is letting building owners, tenants and investors know the scale of the opportunity at hand, UTC says. Americans spent an estimated $432 billion to power their homes, stores and offices in 2011. That’s on par with what US businesses spend on employee health insurance and more than they pay in payroll taxes, the report says.
Investing in energy efficiency could save the UK 196 TWh by 2020, according to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change’s first Energy Efficiency Strategy, released in November.